Does the Social Security COLA Help If You’re Not Receiving Benefits?

The Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2023 was 8.7%, the largest benefit increase since 1981. Obviously, the COLA helps current beneficiaries, but you may wonder whether it will make a difference if you’re not yet receiving retirement benefits.

The answer depends on your age. If you reached age 62 by December 2022, the 2023 COLA will increase your retirement benefit regardless of whether or not you have begun receiving it. If you were under 62 in 2022, the COLA will not directly apply to you, but high inflation may increase your future benefit due to an increase in wages on a national level and/or an increase in your own wages. Here are some details.

Primary Insurance Amount

When you reach age 62, the Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates your primary insurance amount (PIA) — the amount you would receive at full retirement age. Your benefit is always based on your PIA, although it may be reduced or increased due to claiming earlier or later than your full retirement age. Any COLA is applied to your PIA. The 2023 COLA was applied in December 2022 for benefits beginning January 2023, so you must have reached age 62 by December 2022 to receive the COLA.*

Indexing Wages for Inflation

Even if the 2023 COLA does not apply to you, your future benefit may be increased due to higher average wages in the current inflationary environment. Your PIA is based on the average of your 35 highest years of earnings, adjusted for inflation using the national average wage index (AWI) — calculated each year based on national wages. There is a look-back period of two years, so for someone who turns 62 in 2023, the PIA is calculated using the AWI for 2021. The 2021 AWI would be applied to wages prior to that year, and wages in 2021 and later would not be indexed.

The effect of the AWI may surprise you. To use a simple example, let’s say Jim reaches age 62 in 2023 and earned $100,000 in 2021 and $35,000 in 1991. After adjusting for the wage index, Jim’s 1991 earnings would be $97,202 — almost as much as his 2021 earnings. With wages rising due to high inflation in 2022, the 2022 AWI may substantially increase average wages for people who turn 62 in 2024 or later.


Social Security COLA, 1975–2023

The highest Social Security COLA was 14.3% in 1980, followed by an 11.2% COLA in 1981. The next highest was an 8.7% COLA in 2023.

There was no COLA in 2010, 2011, and 2016.
Source: Social Security Administration, 2022

Although earnings after age 59 are not indexed, they can increase your future benefits if your annual earnings are higher than one of your previous 35 highest years of earnings. In this case, the SSA will recalculate your PIA.

You can obtain an estimate of your future Social Security retirement benefit at various retirement ages by establishing a my Social Security account at

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Matthew Englade

Matt graduated in 2008 from Southeastern Louisiana with a bachelor's degree in business. He started his career in financial services, working as a staff member with Delahaye and Associates, where he eventually became a partner.

In 2022 he formed Englade Insurance and Financial Services, where his primary focus is serving his client’s best interest. “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” 1 Peter 3:14

Matt is a resident of Central, LA and enjoys spending time with his wife, Angela, and three children. He also enjoys coaching middle school basketball and giving back to his local church.

Jacob Ashford

Jacob is currently a student at Southeastern Louisiana University and is studying in the College of Business as a Marketing Major.

Jacob pursues his career by working with Matt and Angela in their mission to spread financial sustainability with their current and future clients. He also donates his time to the Southeastern's College of Business by participating in numerous career services for the city of Hammond.

Having two younger sisters, Jacob understands the importance of protecting family values and leading a path to a secure future.

Nathan graduated from Texas A&M University Class of 2006 with a degree in Agriculture Leadership & Development. Nathan has been in public service as a firefighter since 2008. In addition he and Katherine have started, operated, purchased, and sold multiple small business’. Through his experiences; Financial Services has been a lifelong pursuit for Nathan and he is excited to be a resource for people like you, your family, and your business.

Angela Englade

Angela graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse for 14 years. She decided to continue her love for caring for others through helping people obtain financial health and wellness.

She joined Englade Insurance and Financial Services to guide Matt's clients on becoming aware of potential roadblocks and achieve financial peace of mind. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and exercising.

Along with Matthew, she volunteers many hours to local charities to give back to the community.

Eve is happily married to her best friend Rick since 2012. They enjoy recreational trips like hiking and camping, visiting the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, and trips to Walt Disney World. They are active in their congregation, donating their time and effort to help run the Audio/Visual presentations for services. She is grateful for all God has given her and believes all the glory goes to Him.

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Matt is a board member of CALEF and is involved committed to its long-term success. The mission of CALEF is to provide police, fire and EMS personnel with the safety equipment they need to serve and protect with excellence. We provide all-day rifle protection and other safety equipment to local law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel. CALEF believes that communities are safer and stronger when local law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel are properly equipped to do their job.

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Matt and Angela are active members of the church and school communities of St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Parish. Their mission is to form students in the Catholic Faith spiritually, academically, physically, and culturally in an environment of academic excellence. St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic School is committed to providing a positive, faith-filled environment for children to learn. Our comprehensive curriculum is designed to promote academic excellence and the spiritual growth of our students, coupled with an appreciation of how service to others makes the world a better place. We strive to expand their potential to become leaders.

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